The impact of Brexit on people travelling to Europe with pre-existing health conditions

Published: Mon, 2nd November 2020, 02:00:00 PM

Despite COVID-19, it is quite possible that some of you will be thinking about holidays next year. It’s also possible that some you travel to Europe for work or family reasons.

As you are doubtless aware, on December 31st the ‘transition period’ following the UK's departure from the EU will end. From this date regulations related to travel into countries in the EU (plus also to Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland) will change in several ways. This will include (and not necessarily limited to):  requiring passports to be valid for at least a further 6 months; what documents you need if driving; changes to the ‘pet passport’ scheme, and - very importantly - access to medical care.

It is towards the latter point that we wish to particularly draw your attention.

From January 1st, 2021 the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will not, (with only very limited exceptions) be any longer valid for UK citizens.  This means that to avoid risking potentially very expensive medical bills, it is essential that you have travel insurance with appropriately adequate medical cover in order to access healthcare in Europe.  NB: this will also apply to emergency medical care.

Its particularly important you get travel insurance with the right cover if you have a pre-existing medical condition, a situation which will apply to most, if not all, OA/TOF patients. This is because, whilst the EHIC scheme covers pre-existing conditions, many travel insurance policies do not.

Pre-existing medical conditions can cover anything - both congenital and acquired diseases, and more ‘everyday’ conditions from allergies to torn ligaments.

Different insurance companies have different detail definitions, but your insurer is likely to consider any of the following a pre-existing medical condition:

  • Any condition you are waiting for an operation on, or test results for
  • Any condition, even a minor one, that you’ve seen a doctor about in the last year
  • Any serious condition you have ever had

They will likely also want to know if you’re currently taking any medication.

You should declare all existing medical conditions when buying travel insurance; if you’re not sure whether to declare, don’t assume it’s covered. Please check with your insurance provider, otherwise you may find that any claim you make is rejected.

Some policies or insurers might not cover your pre-existing medical condition at all;  others might give you cover but will charge a supplementary premium for it.

For further information, you should find the following website links useful:


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